The results of the BPM Pulse, the annual performance management survey conducted by BPM Partners, are used by project managers implementing business performance management (BPM) as well as by BPM vendors to gain insights into how their peers are using or planning to use BPM and how the various vendors are rated by their customers. For performance management initiatives that are more advanced, project managers use the survey results to benchmark their own BPM progress. The vendors are looking to see what features and components are most important to the BPM community. They also want to see how satisfied their customers are with their products, as well as those of their competitors.

There are a couple of key questions users and vendors want answered. How do users and prospects feel about all the consolidation that has taken place in the BPM vendor landscape? Now that some of the independent BPM vendors have been snapped up by enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors, will they still be able to sell to companies that haven’t standardized on that vendor’s ERP system? With small and midsized companies both moving forward with BPM in addition to the high-end larger enterprises, a BPM sweet spot for several years, will the component priorities remain the same? Lastly, after all the innovation that has come as part of BPM 2.0 (predictive analytics, operational analysis, profitability optimization, governance, risk, compliance, etc.), which business capabilities are most important to BPM users and prospects?

The Pulse survey currently has more than 740 valid responses, a 50 percent increase over prior years. The respondents come from all industries and functions, with a roughly equal mix of business and IT titles. While the survey is global, the majority of responses came from North America.

Respondents were asked how they felt the M&A activity impacted the solutions available to end users. The largest group, 48 percent, responded that they weren’t sure. This group could potentially sit on the sidelines and watch the vendors roll out their revised product roadmaps and integration timelines before they make up their minds on moving forward with BPM. Close behind were 41 percent of respondents who offered positive outlooks due to bigger vendors with more complete offerings. A minority viewed this negatively, with reduced competition and diversity of choices.

The best way to see the market reaction to ERP vendors that acquired standalone performance management vendors is by looking at the question, “Where did you/will you get your BPM solutions from?” In prior years, the leading answers were BPM application vendors (approximately 40 percent) and application plus tools vendors (approximately 40 percent). ERP and business intelligence (BI) tools-only vendors were in the minority, with only about 10 percent of respondents each. The answers this year clearly reflect (and validate) the acquisitions that took place in 2007. The number one answer with 37 percent was “from my own ERP vendor.” This demonstrates that because the ERP vendors have significantly upgraded their offerings in this area, many of their customers will now look to them first for BPM. The other related response was “from a different ERP vendor,” with 19 percent. This answers the question on many people’s minds - will customers that have standardized on Oracle buy BPM solutions from SAP and vice versa? The answer appears to be yes. It should be noted, though, that 28 percent are still looking to non-ERP-affiliated BPM applications and tools vendors.

The question asked every year about which BPM components are most important produces fairly consistent responses from year to year at the top and bottom. That is, budgeting has always been at the top of the list and financial consolidation is always near the bottom. The reasons are fairly obvious - budgeting is still a painful process for most companies, and it forms the foundation of most performance systems. Consolidation has more limited appeal because its greatest benefits are targeted at larger companies with many diverse operations around the globe. In between these two are a list of components that include dashboards/scorecards, operational analytics, strategic planning and full BPM suites. The number two spot in recent years has been held by dashboards and by operational analytics. This year, strategic planning comes in just behind budgeting. This could be a result of more large enterprises pursuing BPM and completing the survey this year. This consistent priority given to budgeting makes it difficult to acknowledge BI vendors who only focus on dashboards as true performance management vendors.

Lastly, a more forward-looking question. Every year we list a number of capabilities that have recently been added by BPM vendors or are in the process of being added. We ask users to rate their importance. This generally indicates where the market is going next. As more and more users have implemented the core BPM components, as discussed in the prior section, what areas will they look to address next? The two top vote getters with almost equal scores were profitability analysis and quality improvement. I was a little surprised to see quality improvement ranked so high in a BPM survey, but it was. The next two, with nearly identical ratings, were predictive analytics and governance, risk and compliance.

The full BPM Pulse survey results provide invaluable information for users, prospects and vendors. Users and prospects can download the summary results for free at:

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